Our Sustainable Fashion Cards feature eight Design Strategies, that provide solutions and different approaches for a more conscious and circularity-oriented clothing development.
We shared these strategies in a series of posts on our Instagram, and you can access the compiled content below!
- Design for Circularity focuses on choosing long lasting, innovative and/or up-cycled materials, and on ensuring a product is constructed for cyclability. The product’s life cycle extension, further repair possibilities, and recycling or composting are facilitated by design. In addition, the business models in which the product circulates, will also contribute to the material having “infinite value”, for example leasing, swapping, etc. Our ‘Circular Bags Project’, was developed with major focus on this strategy! To watch the IG TV video where our co-founder Larissa Roviezzo explains it, click here.
- Design for Disassembly brings the concept of modular garments, which facilitates material cyclability through Repair, Upcycling, Downcycling or Recycling. The pros of a modular garment are versatility, the possibility to combine materials for the tech and bio cycles, and the use of other non-textile components. As a case example, Denim Footprint was a project where we created a guideline for denim design and production. Disassembly of collars to enable repairing when worn down, and easy removal of metal buttons to facilitate recycling, where highlighted features.
- Design for User Customization focuses on enabling participation by the user and building an emotional connection to the product. This strategy aims to reduce overproduction & overstock. Production scalability, high costs, and a limited target group may be possible challenges for its implementation.
- Ethical Design focuses on improving social impact, strengthening traditions & cultures, and the use of local resources. Besides good intentions, design teams must be conscious about an adequate monitoring of suppliers, and the risks of cultural appropriation. Watch the IG TV video where our cofounder Melissa O de León, comments about some interesting Ethical Design case examples.
- Positive Design brings benefits to users through garment’s use, and provides innovative solutions to ecosystem’s regeneration. The main challenges comprehend technical difficulties to implement solutions, higher costs, and intense research investment.
- Low-No Waste strategy focuses on reducing residues and waste, associated with clothing production! Some of its benefits are the minimisation of environmental impacts, maximisation of material usage, new manufacture possibilities with CAD & 3D printing, and repurposing waste from other industries. Some cons might be, resolving the product’s aesthetics, feel (texture) and performance, and overall design & pattern limitations. Some case examples are Agraloop technology, which transforms food industry leftovers like rice straw and pineapple leaves into textile fibers; and Brazilian Tsuru Alfaiataria, which has Zero-waste clothing making as a methodology, as well as a philosophy.
- Design with Mono Material is directly associated with the circular approach, and it aims to facilitate the recycling phase at the very end of the use cycle. It also provides the opportunity for the company to work with fewer suppliers, and strengthen those relationships. As for the user, the mono-material product is easier to wash and take care of. Some constraints faced by the design team would be the limited options for trimmings and components, and also aesthetics challenges. One of the most iconic business cases with this approach was Adidas Futurecraft Loop sneakers launched in 2019, and made out entirely of TPU. Adidas is now researching how to avoid quality loss of this material throughout the recycling loops.
- Design for Longevity aims to generate emotional & material durability, promotes the idea of multiple users, inheritance & wearability, and as a consequence, reduces consumption. Some cons would be that timeless designs become more hard to fit trends, and this approach tends to be more adaptable to slow business models. With a slogan such as “Levis jeans are made to last”, the iconic brand knows how to design for longevity. It’s 1950’S 701 model is a good example for this design strategy. It’s vintage design consolidates as a wardrobe classic and it’s made with 100% cotton – a feature nobody would imagine to be “circularity friendly”.
Which strategy do you think is most relevant in terms of impact? Which of the strategies apply best to your product category?
We will keep following the evolution of these Design Strategies, and how the fashion market and brands will be interpreting them in practice!
If you have any inspiration or comments to share on the topic, write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover photo: thepangia.com